06. Africa, Art & Humanities

AP Art History: Theories and Interpretations of African Art

AP Art History: Theories and Interpretations of African Art
*Note: The enduring “Enduring understanding,” “Learning Objective,” & “Essential Knowledge” language comes from the 2019 AP Art History Curriculum and Exam Guide.

Enduring Understanding: The study of art history is shaped by different theories and interpretations of art and art making that change over time. These theories and interpretations may be generated both by visual analysis of works of art and by scholarship that may be affected by factors including, but not limited to, other disciplines, available technology, and the availability of evidence.

Learning Objective: Explain how theories and interpretations of works of art are shaped by visual analysis as well as by other disciplines, technology, or the availability.

Essential Knowledge: As they have been traditionally collected by outsiders, African art objects that are similar in form are often grouped with works that come from the same place and are produced by a designated ethnic group. The name of the artist and the date of creation may not be known or acknowledged, but such gaps in the record do not necessarily reflect a lack of interest on the part of those who commission, use, and protect art objects. The Africa we know often comes from ideas promulgated by nonAfricans since the 9th century—as though Africa’s history were brought to, rather than originating from, Africa.

Essential Knowledge: The study of art history is shaped by different theories and interpretations of art and art making that change over time and may be generated both by visual analysis as well as by scholarship. These theories and interpretations may be used, harnessed, manipulated, and adapted in order to make an art-historical argument about a work or a group of works of art. Although interpretation of some of this art is conjectural at best, the clarity and strength of design and expression in the work is obvious.

Suggested Works:

  • 167. Conical tower and circular wall of Great Zimbabwe. Shona peoples (Southeastern Zimbabwe). c. 1000–1400 ce. Coursed granite blocks.

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